How I See It: When you love your job, you work with gusto

Jon1By Jonathon S. Platt
Web & social media editor

“Poke your head up if you’re reading this book at work. Seven of the 10 people you can see hate being there.”

A couple things happened when I read this sentence in Jon Acuff’s latest book, “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work And Never Get Stuck.” One, I looked up because, yes, I was reading this in the Lariat office. Two, I saw people who were dedicated to their craft and passionate about creating in this special sanctuary.

“Do they hate being here?” I wondered. “Do they hate their job?”

Third, I realized that if they picked up this book, they would look at me and might wonder the same thing.

Ask anyone around if I love working at the Lariat. Ask anyone how passionate I am about this work and this industry.

From the mountaintops, I’ll shout it: I love my job. Actually, I love it so much that I spend way too much time in the newsroom, neglecting both classwork and sleep regularly. I’m one of the three people who don’t “hate being there.”

My favorite thing to do is ship – the process of creating and delivering – words, but maybe I work beside writers who don’t.

“How do I handle that?” I wondered.

Last week, I wrote about what to do when you hate your job, when you hate being a cog and when you hate waiting to be picked.

Simply, when the walls are closing in and you feel claustrophobic by simply showing up to the office or the factory, it’s time to stop waiting to be picked and pick yourself.

The connected economy we live in no longer has gatekeepers, it’s your time to bust down the gate.

Now I think it’s time for a different conversation, be it for a much smaller population that I hope will one day be everyone: the people who love doing their work. What do you do if Mondays aren’t dreaded, if you don’t want to reinvent your work or don’t feel stuck?

Simple: I think you show up smiling.

Smile for the people who hate work – the people who had to force themselves into the office. Because your attitude is one of the most contagious things about you.

Offices are filled with grimacing people grueling through their work. Smiles from someone entering at 8 a.m. for a day of art-making might be the boost a frustrated employee in the corner cubicle needs.

By showing that you love to show up, to work and to ship, it’s possible to help hoist others from miserably grumbling at their desk.

Second, I think someone who loves his or her job needs to keep doing what Seth Godin calls poking the box. Surviving is no longer the lowest point of buoyancy. In order to stay afloat, corporations – and especially the people who work for them – must be constantly playing with the status quo.

It’s not enough to think outside the box, you’ve got to be prepared and willing to poke the next one before it can swallow you.

Working by poking keeps us engaged. Without engagement, it’s easy to slip into the dreaded 9-to-5 rut.

And third, you do what you do with gusto.

Gusto is a fun word that I define as “hustling with purpose and determination.” It’s possible to push through the day-to-day monotony of work without really making a difference. It’s actually fairly easy to put your nose on the grindstone or keyboard and never really move an inch.

Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company had an ad in 1965 that posed the problem of defining “gusto.”

“Webster’s says, ‘Keen or zestful appreciation; high relish or enjoyment,’” reads the copy. “But if you really want to know what gusto is, reading a dictionary won’t explain it…”

It’s easy to merely work. It takes focusing and zeroing in on exactly what your art is to do so with gusto.

Later, the company produced television ads telling audiences to “grab life with gusto.”

This is a great motto in general, but especially for work: show up with a smile to constantly poke the box and intentionally ship art with gusto.

We work better when we love what we do. Why not help others love working too?

Jonathon S. Platt is a junior journalism major from Kilgore. He is the Web and social media editor and a regular columnist for the Lariat.